Best Train Pass?

Apr 2nd, 2013, 07:58 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
When you rent a car in Italy, you must buy CDW -- collision damage waiver. Any credit card coverage doesn't count. Also in Italy, the driver(s) must have an International Driver's Permit, a translation of your license, which is easily and cheaply available at your local AAA/CAA office. About $25 including a photo. Bring both your license and the IDP on the trip.

You can call Autoeurope and talk to them about the drop-off surcharge. If saving money is a priority, look at the Italian site: www.autoeurope.it. It's pretty easy to navigate in Italian.

Congratulations on your marriage!
Mimar is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:36 AM
  #22  
 
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>>>When you rent a car in Italy, you must buy CDW -- collision damage waiver. Any credit card coverage doesn't count. <<<

There are reports of certain Visa cards allowing coverage in Italy, but most cards exclude Italy (and Ireland).

>>>point to point passes?<<<

No such thing as point-to-point passes. Did you mean p-t-p tickets?

>>>Based on Rail Europe, the total cost for those two trains point to point is $622 (that would take us directly to Florence)<<<

Do not look at RailEurope. It's useless for your itinerary. If you are getting a Swiss pass, then you need to be on the Swiss website, not RailEurope. Do not prices p-t-p tickets on RailEurope, they don't show all trains and the ones they do show are marked up prices.

You need to quite looking at Rick Steves and other sites that roll over to RailEurope.

These are the only websites you should be using for this.

For Swiss passes:
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html

If you don't get a Swiss pass:
www.sbb.ch

For Italy:
http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:24 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 75,841
Do not look at RailEurope. It's useless for your itinerary. If you are getting a Swiss pass, then you need to be on the Swiss website, not RailEurope. Do not prices p-t-p tickets on RailEurope, they don't show all trains and the ones they d>

Wrong- RailEurope often sells the same exact Swiss Pass IME of comparing prices for those sold in the U S in dollars vs those exact same passes sold in Switzerland in francs - and usually RE has been cheaper - sometimes significantly so - so check prices both at www.swisstravelsystem.com and www.raileurope (or any of their agents like www.ricksteves.com or www.budgeteuropetravel.com - all agents have the same prices as RE and may give better service or a lower mailing fee - many have none.

And for biuying in Switzerland not any foreign exchange fees - often 3% you will have to tack on to use your credit card for foreign purchases and to change dollars into francs, etc.

But believe me RailEurope for the past serveral years I've been tracking them has usually been cheaper for the exact same pass - sometimes a lot cheaper - that said do your homework as that is not always true and compare for yourself.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 12:41 PM
  #24  
 
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The proper response to foreign conversion fees is to get a card that doesn't charge them, e.g. Capital One, or only charges 1%, i.e. most Credit Unions.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 04:09 PM
  #25  
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Thanks! I have a chase sapphire preferred card so there are no foreign transaction fees.

Budgeteuropetravel.com is AMAZING! I spoke to Byron today for 45 minutes and he explained everything about the Switzerland trains. Per PalenQ, I will be traveling through Domodossola. Basically from Interlaken --> Spiez --> Domodossla --> Milan --> Florence. The Spiez --> Milan train is the exact same train so I won't have to get off (per KYBourbon). I found the EuroCity Train that has the exact same number, so I will just buy the tickets on Tren Italia to get from Domodossola --> Florence and use the Swiss Pass to get from Spiz--> Domossodolla. Do you think I need to buy them now or just wait until I get to Interlaken to buy? Byron seemed to think there was no need to buy them now, but just want to double check since I am American and used to planning in advance.

Car Rental- I will definitely pick up in Florence and drop off in Venice. About the CDW -- collision damage waiver, I caleld Chase Sapphire VISA. It does include Italy! YAY! It is also Primary Coverage, not secondary coverage. FYI: It excludes Ireland, Irael, Jamaica. I just have to decline coverage collision and loss damage waiver and charge the whole amount on the Sapphire card. Other exclusions: 8 person cars and expensive/luxury cars. I didn't even know declining CDW was an option. Now I am excited because I can save $$. Any cautions out there that I should know about?
jeno13 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 04:14 PM
  #26  
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The American thing was a joke. I am just completely A type and used to a schedule and having everything done in advance. I realized when I reread whatI wrote that it didn't make any sense without an explanation. Dang email tone.
jeno13 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2013, 07:17 PM
  #27  
 
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> Florence and use the Swiss Pass to get from Spiz--> Domossodolla. Do you think I need to buy them now or just wait until I get to Interlaken to buy? Byron seemed to think there was no need to buy them now>

WQell for a cheaper rate I would go to www.trenitalia.cm and see what savings could be realized by booking in advance the DomosdossoLA TO Florence.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:56 AM
  #28  
 
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but you certainly would not need to buy that Italian ticket in advance if that's what you mean - there will always be availability of seats if that's what you mean -you can buy that ticket at a Swiss station - show your pass and explain you just want a Domodossola to Florence ticket so if you are on a train that moves thru the border - many require a change of trains at Brig - you do not have to get off theat train to buy the ticket there.

And again you can get a discounted fare but only if you book weeks in advance and don't need to change that ticket nor refund it - again check Brig or Domodossola to Florence S M N (Santa Maria Novella - the main station in the center of Florence.)
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 09:37 AM
  #29  
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Thank you. I ended up booking the Tren Italia tickets this morning since we are going on a Saturday, Tren Italia offers 2x1 specials. We have to be in Florence that night because of our hotel reservation so it gave me peace of mind to get it done. I made sure the EuroCity train number alligned with my Swiss train plans which I am not booking in advance per suggestions above.

Back to the Swiss Pass. I have spreadsheeted a bunch of info and have been researching. I am now debating between the swiss pass and the 1/2 fare card. Thank you KYBourbon for bring the 1/2 fare card to my attention. This is all first class for 2 people.

OPTION 1- 4 day consecutive Swiss Pass current rates
Rail Europe- $798
SBB Site- $740 CH ($778 USD. The coversion rate assuming current &1.05/1 CF rate). I have a no foreign transaction fee credit card
*My conclusion is if I went with the Swiss Pass, it would make more sense to buy on SBB site or wait until I get to Geneva to buy assuming the currency fluction stays in the USD favor.

OPTION 2- Half Fare Card- I would use this for the trains from Geneva-> Interlaken and from Interlaken-> Domodossola
Cost of card- 240 CF for two people ($252 USD assuming same conversion as above)
The 2 Point to Point Tickets total (this is the cost after 50% off)-221 CH ($232.44 USD)
The total all in for this would be $484 USD. Then I would have to buy any additional transporation at 1/2 price.

Here are my questions. There is approx a $300 difference between the two options in favor of the half-fare card. In Interlaken, I know we will go to Jungfraujoch which is only 25% off with the swiss pass. I'm not sure how many mountain trains we will take while staying there for 2.5 days. I also doubt we will go to many museums in Geneva or Interlaken. Do you think that we would make up the $300 if we bought the Swiss Pass just by traveling on the mountain trains in Interlaken or do you think buying the half-fare card and getting 50% off individual tickets on the mountain trains would be better? Also, can I only buy the half-fare card at a train station in Switzerland instead of now in the states? I didn't see the half-fare card at all on the rail europe site (may have been an oversight).

There are a lot of options that go into this! I appreciate all the help.
jeno13 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 02:01 PM
  #30  
 
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Also, can I only buy the half-fare card at a train station in Switzerland instead of now in the states?>

Not for sale in the U S but only in Switzerland - probably also from www.sbb.ch.

Check out the Swiss Card, sold both her and there - compare prices as this gives you a round-trip train trip between any airport or border station and a place and back and also acts exactly like a Half-Fare Card for all days in between your first and return train trip - could well be a better deal than the Half-Fare Card - same exact benefits TMK but a longish train trip can tip the balance and if arriving by plane you can take the very next train.
Anytime the Half-Fare Card comes into play it should be mentioned that the Swiss Card offers the same benefits plus the rout-trip journey to start and end you trip as this can make it cheaper for the same 50% off benefits.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 02:20 PM
  #31  
 
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Without reading all above - do you know that if you buy a 4-day Swiss Pass there is a special that gives you a free 5th day as well? Not sure of when that had to be bought however to be valid. But was good or is good for travel thru the end of May 2013 I believe.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 05:38 PM
  #32  
 
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Swiss Card = $312 US in first class and $221 in 2nd class.

What does the half-fare cost to buy? CH 240 for 2 = or CHF 120 per person or about $130 US $s.

So in 2nd class that would make a difference of about $90 - $90 to do a round gtrip in your case Geneva to any station in Switzerland - even Wengen or Murren, etc for $45 each way and you still get 50% off just like the Half-Fare Card - seems a better deal at least in 2nd class.

In 1st class the difference is about $180 so if igt costs $90 or more each way the Swiss Card would be better - well that is the break even point - seems a better deal in 2nd class than 1st though perhaps $90 each way is less than perhaps what a regular first-class ticket would cost but seems not as a guess.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:42 PM
  #33  
 
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>>>Wrong- RailEurope often sells the same exact Swiss Pass IME of comparing prices for those sold in the U S in dollars vs those exact same passes sold in Switzerland in francs - and usually RE has been cheaper - sometimes significantly so - <<<

You can get varying results on the Swiss website depending on how you are logged on/searching (similar to the function of the French rail site). Sometimes you will see "powered by RailEurope" appear when you are pricing passes on the Swiss site. Some selections will roll over to traintickets.myswitzerland.com for purchase with price in dollars and powered by RE or select a different country (you have to experiment) and it will roll over to swissrailways.com and the prices will stay in chf.

On the swissrailways.com purchase, you have to select either to pick up at the airport (Geneva,Basel,Zurich) or have them mailed. There is no option to pick up at various rail stations. The fee for the airport pick up or mailing is 15chf.

jeno13 - Didn't mean to hijack your post. Just trying to clear up PQ's question about pricing differences.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2013, 08:34 PM
  #34  
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No worries KYBourbon. There is so much to learn and consider. To comment on your post, the only way I didn't get to Rail Europe was through the sbb.cf site, but it was really hard for me to find the passes for abroad visitors since it seems to be their national site. Once I found it, I did find it was cheaper via the conversion since the Swiss Franc is not as strong to the USD right now. I also learned that RE changes prices based on conversion rates every 2 weeks. That is what someone told me, so don't completely hold me to that, but I found that interesting.

PalenQ- I don't think the Swiss Card actually won't be best for me bc I already have booked by train from Paris--> Geneva so I won't be flying in or entering through a border station. I booked that a while back before I knew about all the options. I bought our train tickets from Paris--> Geneva for super cheap. It was only 74 Euros for 2 people.

The 4+1 special ends on 4/30 and I don't need it until 5/1. You have to use the 4+1 by 4/30 unfortunately.

Right now I am leaning toward waiting until I get to Geneva and buying the Half Fare Card at the station. I'm not sure that I will spend the extra $300 in 2.5 days on mountain trains and museums to make the 4 day swiss pass worth it. Does this make sense to do?
jeno13 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 06:03 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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It's OK to buy the Half Fare Card (or the Swiss Pass) at Geneve Cornavin (Geneva town) railway station.
http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html
The Half fare card gives more reduction between Wengen/Grindelwald and Jungfraujoch. With the Swiss Pass, all trains up to Wengen. Muerren and Grindelwald are free.
For more details, open http://www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/...html?id=137558 and load down the pdf area of validity map.

BTW: if you want to go into the middle of the highest glaciers of Switzerland, the train and cablecar ride to Matterhorn Paradise would be cheaper than that to Jungfrau with all knds of tickets and passes.
neckervd is offline  
Apr 4th, 2013, 02:15 PM
  #36  
 
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Right now I am leaning toward waiting until I get to Geneva and buying the Half Fare Card at the station. I'm not sure that I will spend the extra $300 in 2.5 days on mountain trains and museums to make the 4 day swiss pass worth it.>

with such short time why buy the Half-Fare Card either - why not just regular tickets or if doing the Jungfraujoch train the Jungfraubahn Pass (renamed I believe) covers many conveyances in the region that even a Swiss Pass won't cover.

If Half-Off pass costs $130 then you'll have to be doing at least $260 of trains to break even - how are you going to do that without the Jungfaujoch train which alone could make the Jungfraubahn Pass a better deal - or buy nothing at all seems a good option.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 5th, 2013, 03:06 AM
  #37  
 
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Good point, Palen. The http://www.regiopass-berneroberland.ch/offer-2013/ covers the whole area from Montreux/Lake Geneva up to Jungfraujoch and from Lucerne up to Kandersteg and Brig/Italian border. http://www.regiopass-berneroberland....ich_web_13.pdf

But Jeno must go to Jungfraujoch or use many other mountain railways (not all run in May) if he wants to rentabilize the 230 CHF expense.

And he must change a bit his itinerary:
Geneva - Interlaken via Montreux - Gstaad instead of Fribourg - Berne, Spiez - Brig via Kandersteg instead of Visp.
neckervd is offline  
Apr 5th, 2013, 12:12 PM
  #38  
 
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And he must change a bit his itinerary:
Geneva - Interlaken via Montreux - Gstaad instead of Fribourg - Berne, Spiez - Brig via Kandersteg instead of Visp.>

great info - did not realize that the B O Pass reached so far - but on regional trains I guess or secondary routings - but if not in a hurry those slightly longer timewise routes are far far more gorgeous than the mainline routes.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 7th, 2013, 10:38 AM
  #39  
 
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Spiez - Brig via Kandersteg instead of Visp.>

And if you want to see some of the finest scenery along Switzerland's rail lines then take the regional train route that eschews the new long Lotschberg Tunnel - taking you underground around Frutingen and emerging only in Visp to then quickly enter the Simplon Tunnel to Italy - well the regional trains Spiez-Brig go up and over the mountains and even though they do use a short tunnel presents a really scenic ride - one of the finest in Switzerland IME - especially the long long descent down to the Rhone Valley and Brig - seems like you are in an airplane slowly descending to land in the valley far below.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 8th, 2013, 08:49 AM
  #40  
 
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Geneva - Interlaken via Montreux - Gstaad instead of Fribourg - Berne, Spiez>

Again with that pass you must travel this route, according to neckervd, instead of the fastest route via Bern and Fribourg - the slightly longer route is that of the fabled Golden Pass scenic train and goes thru lovely valleys from which on the south rise tall Alps - around Gstaad very high Alps. In deed you can take the Golden Pass train (well not sure with the pass described - may be only for local trains meaning you'd have to take much longer than on the GP which makes fewer stops and has coordinated changes of trains where normal-gauge tracks become narrow-gauge at Zweissimmen.
But on this route the scenery is much more scenic than on the mainline route via Bern and Lausanne and the descent into Montreux at the end is stunning as the train twoists slowely down thru vineyards the last few miles.
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